Maryland Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler (D), who has spoken out publicly against underage drinking, admitted on Thursday that he should have stepped in at what appeared to be a raucous party filled with teenagers earlier this year after a photograph of him walking thru the crowd went public.
“In hindsight, I probably should have assumed there was drinking and talked to the chaperones about what they thought was appropriate,” the Washington Post quoted Gansler as saying at a press conference, in which he called his failure not to do so “a mistake I made.”
That marked a change in tone from Gansler’s remarks on Wednesday to the Baltimore Sun following the publication of the photo, taken during a June 2013 party in Delaware. Gansler told the Sun that he was at the party only briefly to talk to his son, who was not drinking, and left immediately afterwards.
“Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party,” Gansler told the Sun on Wednesday. “How is that relevant to me? The question is, do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at ‘beach week’ in another state? I say no.”
The Sun also reported that Ganzler was part of the group of parents who paid for the rental of the six-bedroom house where the party was held, to mark the group’s sons’ graduation from a private school in Bethesda, Maryland. Two of the boys’ fathers were installed as chaperones for the event. Documents obtained by the Sun stipulated that the party rules barred consumption of hard alcohol, drinking and driving and “having girls behind closed bedroom doors.” Beer and wine were not prohibited from the party.
“If anything bad happened, if the kids violated the rules, they’d be sent home,” Gansler told the Sun. “If someone drank beer, that would not be an offense for which the chaperones would want to send somebody home.”
At the press conference on Thursday, Gansler described the circumstances behind the photograph.
“What I’m doing in that picture is walking through,” the Post quoted Gansler as saying. “My son was upstairs; he was the DJ. I walked through the party, walked through the dance floor, walked upstairs, talked to my son, walked downstairs and left.”
According to the Sun, various attendees confirmed that there was underage drinking happening at the event. Sun reporter Erin Cox told CNN on Thursday that the gathering was nicknamed “the eviction party” because “they wanted to see how far they could go before they would get evicted.”
“Parents, you’re the leading influence on your teen’s decision not to drink,” Gansler says in the video, aimed at parents whose children are in middle school. “It’s never too early to talk with your kids about smart ways to say no.”
Listen to audio from an interview between the Sun and Gansler, posted on Thursday, before.